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Working Groups

Submitted by caroline.loewen on Thu, 09/10/2015 - 2:39pm

Current Working Groups

Beyond Petrocultures

Building on the Congress 2016 event “Is Oil a Dirty Word? Stories from the Humanities,” cosponsored by the Calgary Institute for the Humanities, our interdisciplinary working group “Beyond Petrocultures” aims to contribute to not only academic but also wider societal discussions on energy literacy. In our contemporary world, especially in an Alberta defined by oil bust, many people are focused on finding solutions to a fossil-fuel dependent society. However, in order to understand both the nature of today’s energy challenges as well as socially acceptable solutions, one needs to uncover the history and politics of certain assumptions about energy. If we want to address our energy
futures, we need to know about our energy pasts, because historical decisions and narratives create societal criteria of the present.

Through our multidisciplinary discussions we hope to go beyond the current concept of ‘petrocultures,’ which focuses on the current regime built on hydrocarbons and interprets the role of oil in terms of its standardizing effects on cultures rather than asking how practices and industry structures are met by existing cultures through adaptation, modification and outright rejection. Teasing out national and regional nuances (over time) will highlight the complexity of such cultures and warn against universalizing the experience of societies in the carbon age all over the world. It will also highlight the importance of power and uncover dominant narratives and actors within each of these petrocultures.


Dr Petra Dolata, CRC History of Energy, Department of History
Dr Sabrina Peric, Department of Anthropology and Archeology
Dr Roberta Rice, Department of Political Science
Dr Saulesh Yessenova, Department of Anthropology and Archeology



Vendler Reading Group

An interdisciplinary group composed of faculty and graduate students from philosophy and linguistics. The group's main goal is to facilitate communication between researchers working on issues related to the syntax, semantics, and pragmatics of natural languages. The group meets approximately once a month to discuss current research, work in progress by reading group members, and to host visiting scholars.


Dr. Nicole Wyatt, Department of Philosophy
Dr. Betsy Ritter, School of Languages, Linguistics, Literatures and Cultures.



Marxism & Italian Theory: A Reading of Negri's Empire

Italian anti-Fascist resistance has been represented in Italian Film and literature, beginning with Neorealism, in the 1940s, inaugurating a global interdisciplinary movement, across the humanities and social sciences, thanks to the images of urban guerrilla and class struggle, as represented in Rossellini’s and De Sica’s masterpieces. The Italian case represents a global sample of anti-Fascist resistance, spreading roots in the years of the Civil War (1943-1945) and the birth of the Italian Republic in 1948, later developing new strategies, up to 1968, and the following decade, culminating in the social movements of 1977, in a constant confrontation with the conservative and reactionary forces still embedded in Italian society, and repression.
In 2000 Harvard University Press published Empire by Michael Hard and Antonio Negri, a book that reached international attention and is considered a classic text by many today. Antonio Negri (1933) is one of the leading figure in what is now called Italian Theory, a development of Marxist theories, rooted in the Workerist (Operaismo) movements of the 1960s and 1970s, and the history of class struggle in Italy, now considered a relevant example - in a global context and in a globalized world - especially in Latin American countries, where Antonio Negri’s been invited and his theories studied and discussed. We will be analyzing the work of arguably the foremost critic of globalization, Antonio Negri in anticipation of his visit to the UofC in April 2017.


Dr. Francesca Cadel, School of Languages, Linguistics, Literatures and Cultures.
Dr. Pablo Poloczer, Department of Political Science, Director, Latin American Research Centre


Visual Research - Year 2

Visual research is a growing interdisciplinary movement across the social sciences, arts and humanities, and applied health and human service disciplines. Visual research takes different forms, for example, photographs or films created by researchers/artists or research participants, or research that utilizes archival and found images. Images may be used as intermediary data or conversational aids in interview research – but also, and increasingly, still and moving images are considered the research itself. Rather than illustrate research findings, images are used in presentations, publications and exhibitions, and valued for their expressive as well as informational qualities. Visual research recognizes the unique contributions that images can make to knowledge production. In this research arena sharp boundaries between art, literature and science are deliberately blurred in search of new forms of exploration and knowledge.


Liza McCoy, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology
Dona Schwartz, Associate Professor, Department of Art

How to Apply

The Calgary Institute for the Humanities is pleased to announce a new funding competition for Interdisciplinary Working Groups.  These groups are intended to be more focused than Research Groups, and aim to bring together University of Calgary faculty and graduate students from different disciplines to investigate a common research question. Groups may apply for up to $3,000 in funding to support their activities.  Returning groups may apply for up to $1,000.  These funds can be used for graduate student assistance, for bringing collaborators or visiting speakers to campus, or for the support of a grant application.  

Please see the Call for Proposals for application guidelines.  Applications are now closed. 

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